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Inquiry finds misconduct by prosecutors in Ted Stevens case

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A court-appointed investigator has found evidence of “significant, widespread, and at times intentional misconduct” by government lawyers who brought corruption charges against former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, but did not recommend that they face criminal charges.

  • In this 2009 photo, former Alaska senator Ted Stevens arrives at federal court in Washington.File photo by Gerald Herbert, AP

    In this 2009 photo, former Alaska senator Ted Stevens arrives at federal court in Washington.

File photo by Gerald Herbert, AP

In this 2009 photo, former Alaska senator Ted Stevens arrives at federal court in Washington.

The investigation’s conclusions were outlined Monday in an order by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who had ordered the inquiry. It is the first independent assessment of the shortcomings in the Justice Department‘s handling of the high-profile corruption case, which collapsed in 2009 when Attorney General Eric Holder asked to set aside Stevens’ conviction because prosecutors had improperly withheld evidence that could have helped his defense.

Sullivan said the 2½-year probe by Washington lawyer Henry Schuelke III concluded that the case against Stevens was “permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated his defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.” Sullivan said misconduct in the case was more extensive than revealed previously, but did not elaborate.

The Supreme Court has said since 1963 that prosecutors have a constitutional duty to reveal evidence favorable to defendants. Still, Schuelke’s investigation did not recommend that the prosecutors be charged with criminal contempt of court for failing to do so in Stevens’ case, because Sullivan had never given them a “clear and unequivocal” order that they “follow the law.”

Stevens, a Republican, had been accused of violating federal ethics laws by failing to disclose more than $250,000 in gifts and services he had used to renovate his home. He lost re-election in 2008 to the Senate seat he had held for 40 years and died in a plane crash last year.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Laura Sweeney, said officials were reviewing Sullivan’s order. Holder told lawmakers at a hearing this month that the department’s own investigation of the case was “just about finalized.” Nearly all of the prosecutors involved in the Stevens case still work for the Justice Department; one committed suicide last year.

An investigation last year by USA TODAY found that Justice Department usually took years to review instances of misconduct, and that lawyers who were found by courts to have committed serious violations faced little risk of losing their jobs.

Sullivan wrote that he plans to release the report but will give the Justice Department and lawyers for the prosecutors a chance to review it first.

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An investigation of prosecutors responsible for the botched corruption case against the late Alaska senator Ted Stevens found evidence of “significant, widespread and at times intentional misconduct,” but recommended that the prosecutors not face criminal charge ALASKA

Written by dawneworswick

November 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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